In the same week that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down ( I saw Pink Floyd’s The Wall there in 1992) a new BBC poll finds that only 11 percent of people questioned around the world – and 29,000 people were asked their opinions – think that free-market capitalism is a good thing. The rest believe in more government regulation. Only a small percentage of the world’s population believes that capitalism works well and that more regulation will reduce efficiency. They love socialism dear Amelia Island capitalists.
One quarter of those asked said that capitalism is “fatally flawed.” In France, 43% believe this. In Mexico, it is 38%. A majority believes that government should rob the rich to give money to poor countries. In only one country, Turkey, did a majority say that less government is better.
It gets even worse.
While most Europeans and Americans think it was a good thing for the Soviet Union to disintegrate, people in India, Indonesia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Russia, and Egypt mostly think it was a bad thing. Yes, that’s right: millions freed from socialist rule think it’s a bad thing.
That news must lift the heart of every would-be despot the world over. And it comes as something of a shock twenty years after the collapse of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe revealed what this system had created: backward societies with citizens who lived short and miserable lives.
Then there is the China case, a country rescued from barbarism under communism and transformed into a modern and prosperous country by capitalism.
What can we learn?
Far from not having learned anything, people have largely forgotten the experience and have developed a love for the ancient fairy tale that all things can be fixed through collectivism and central planning.
As to those who would despair at this poll, consider that it might have been much worse were it not for the efforts of a relative handful of intellectuals who have fought against socialist theory for more than a century. It might have been 99% in support of socialist tyranny. So there is no sense in saying that these intellectual efforts are wasted.
Ideas also have a life of their own. They can lie in wait for decades or centuries and then one day, the whole of history turns on a dime.